What’s not to like about Slow Cities?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

There’s a scene in the film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” where Ferris (played by Matthew Broderick) looks at the camera and says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

That’s how I’m feeling lately. Like life is moving a little too fast.

In my constant quest to find a slower paced lifestyle, I discovered a couple of worldwide movements.

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One is the Slow Cities movement, the other is Slow Foods.

The Slow Cities movement mainly has a strong foothold in European countries, like Italy and Austria. There are a couple of dozen (at least) slow cities in Italy alone, including San Vincenzo, Positano and Loreto.

Some of the suggestions from Slow Cities include that municipalities:

Plan for the restoration of the original conditions of works and buildings of cultural and historical significance.

Implement a plan for the elimination of noisy alarm systems, alongside adequate programs for the protection the property against theft.

Boost the use of recyclable containers in public structures.

Provide containers for refuse and their removal according to an established schedule.

The promotion and dissemination of programs for greening of private and public spaces with plants that have a nice scent or that improve the environment.

Creation and implementation of plans to develop a city-wide Internet-based network for citizens.

Development and implementation of plans to increase the use of environment-friendly building materials.

Creation of programs to increase the status and accessibility of historical town centres.

It seems to me, with an already slow-paced lifestyle, and with so many buildings of historical and cultural significance, Selma would be a perfect candidate to join in the Slow Cities movement.

What’s not to like about this plan?

You protect your city’s history and culture.

You use recycled materials and native materials to build things.

You keep plenty of green space.

You build a sense of community.

How about banning vehicles from downtown Selma? How would folks get around, you ask? Well, a lot of people already walk. And you could have public parking outside a certain perimeter.

You keep your downtown streets free for pedestrians, open air markets, tourism events, picnic areas and green space.

How about playing checkers in what used to be the middle of Broad Street?

Or reading a book while sitting on a bench on Water Avenue?

Public transportation would have to play a key role in this, of course. Less vehicle traffic means folks still need a way to get around. An efficient bus system would be a great start.

People could step out their front door, walk a block or two to the bus stop, and get to just about anywhere in the city in 15 minutes or less. (It is a small city, after all).

Less stress.

Less hassle.

Less traffic.

Like I said, what’s not to like?

TAMMY LEYTHAM is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.